29 April 2017
Becky Emerson Carlberg
Where would we be without mythology and our imagination? Do you believe in spirits? Tonight is Hexannacht or Witches Night. In Germany, the night of April 30th, directly opposite our Halloween, is when the witches and demons fly from the Brocken Mountain, tallest in the Harz Mountain range in north central Germany, in honor of their Sabbath. They try to prevent the Queen of Spring from entering the country. In earlier times, broomsticks were hidden, sacred salt was scattered over the house threshold and pentagrams were placed over all entrances. Now, the children come earlier in the evening to do a bit of mischief. They ring doorbells, put mustard on door handles and decorate with toilet paper. It’s a good idea to leave out a broken umbrella or something they can find and hide. After the young ones have gone to bed, the older tricksters emerge. They are much more creative. One year all our patio furniture was reassembled on top of our garage complete with a few flower pots and the heavy swing suspended on chains from a metal frame. It was done so quietly we never knew until the next morning. That took some time to retrieve.
Young Germans in villages will erect the Maypole and set up the bonfire the last day in April. The Maypole is usually a fir tree with all the lower branches stripped off. The slender post is decorated with ribbons and craftsmen trade ornaments (pretzels for bakers, sausages for butchers, etc.) Sleeping bags are ready for the youth as they protect the Maypole and keep the bonfire burning through the night.
Spring is welcomed on May 1st or May Day, an ancient holiday. May Day is a time of fun and elaborate picnics in many northern European countries. My mother told me they created May Baskets when she was a girl in Michigan. A handkerchief or small paper cone was filled with sweets or spring flowers and hung on the house next door’s handle. A quick knock-knock or ring of the bell and she’d race away, leaving her neighbor surprised and delighted. Welcome Spring! Remember, spring arrives later in the colder climates. Last spring frost day for Flint, Michigan is May 21st.
When I was in grade school at J C Roe School in North Carolina, we danced around the May Pole. It had ribbons tied to the top and we students would weave in and out as we circled the pole trying not to step on all the pine cones that littered the ground. When we finished the dance, the pole was covered from top to bottom with colorful braided strips of fabric.
MARCH FOR SCIENCE
Did you go to the state capitol April 22nd to celebrate Earth Day? Hundreds of scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers, students, families, kids, and earth lovers rallied in front of the south oval of the Oklahoma State Capitol Building on a cold, cloudy, blustery 50 degree morning. Concerned passionate individuals held placards and posters as they rallied in support of science on Earth Day. Organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Dove Science Academy and the OK Neuroscience Society allowed participants to have hands-on experience with things they supplied. Demonstrations and projects lined sidewalks with topics ranging from Acidification of the Ocean and its relevance to Oklahoma, the house fly, animal bones, use of telescope to other scientific themes of interest. The feeling was like being at a science fair populated by a large crowd of people wearing white lab coats or t-shirts with relevant earth/ science messages or those waving signs high in the sky with pictures and messages such as: “Support Science” “Don’t turn Science into Fiction” “There is no Planet B” “Science is not a Liberal Conspiracy” “Fund our Schools” “Pro Science Pro Planet” “Unfunded Science leads to Undiscovered Cures” “Facts Matter” “Children of Mother Earth” “I’m with (picture of planet) Her” and a picture of a bee with “If We Die, We’re Taking You With Us!”
The orators standing in front of those seated and standing gave quick inspiring “Call to Action” speeches. We all then slowly fell into place and Marched for Science from the south plaza of the state capitol around the south parking lot back to the front of the capitol building. The final speaker was a minister who talked about doubt and its importance, pertaining even to science. Doubt raises questions that help discover solutions.
Earth Day may only last 24 hours, but caring for the earth goes on indefinitely. If you value your life and your environment, place your support in the STEM People (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Try to imagine your own life without your conveniences, educational opportunities, entertainment, transportation, dependable food and water, beer, unpolluted air, birds, butterflies, polar bears, Manatees, National and State Parks, the trees and plants, wildlife, the rain, the trilling of frogs, the very oxygen you breathe……Thank the Earth. She is your home. The Earth has been changing since her birth. Education and knowledge about our planet and what is happening to her should not be censored nor ignored.
Take it from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC-475 BC): Everything changes and nothing stands still. One can’t deny this.
Support Science. Do not forget my paraphrased Newton’s Third Law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction .” Treat your Earth and all life the way you want to be treated every single day your heart beats.